M F Smith was conceived in Japan and born in the USA to a military family. As a child, he lived in many parts of the USA and in Germany. He studied medicine (interrupted permanently by the draft), then geology in the US and UK before finishing a PhD in Oceanography in Ireland. He moved to Switzerland, developed computer systems in the oil industry and started publishing technical papers. He settled in the UK in 1980 as an academic computer scientist and businessman. In the early 1990s, he became involved in medical computing as a professor of medicine and also computer science. Eventually he moved to London, was appointed to a number of other professorial positions, worked in management consultancy and founded several technology companies. Now mostly retired to family life, he divides his time unequally between London and Central Europe.